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Employers are being reminded of their responsibilities to keep workers safe as the first spell of cold weather is set to hit the country.

The Health and Safety Executive, is stressing the importance of protecting workers during the cold weather. It comes as the Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for ice and snow for parts of the UK.

John Rowe, Head of Operational Strategy, said: “We’re calling on all employers to take a sensible approach during the cold weather that is coming our way.

There are lots of jobs that will be more difficult in the these conditions. Most employers will recognise this and make appropriate accommodations for their staff. That is the right thing to do.

“It’s also important employers ensure staff are working in a reasonable temperature. People working in uncomfortably cold environments are less likely to perform well and more likely to behave unsafely because their ability to make good decisions deteriorates.”

Temperatures in indoor workplaces are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which place a legal obligation on employers to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace.

All employers are expected to ensure indoor workplaces are kept at a reasonable temperature. The Approved Code of Practice suggests the minimum temperature should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius. If the work involves rigorous physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius.

John Rowe added: “Complying with the code of practice is the right thing for an employer to do. By maintaining a reasonable temperature, employers are likely to maintain the morale and productivity of their staff as well as improving health and safety.”

Outdoor working

When working outdoors, the weather can have a serious impact on worker’s health if the risks have not been properly managed.

This impact may be immediate or occur over a longer period of time.

The weather can also affect a worker’s ability to keep safe, for example when handling machinery.

There are simple actions you can take to protect people working outdoors.

Cold environments

  • Ensure the personal protective equipment issued is appropriate
  • Provide mobile facilities for warming up, and soup or hot drinks
  • Introduce more frequent rest breaks
  • Consider delaying the work until warmer times of the year without compromising on safety
  • Make sure workers can recognise the early symptoms of cold stress, such as a cough or body aches

Click Here for a free Tool Box Talk Winter Working

Click here to see our Winter Essentials Catalogue  

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